A new three-storey mixed-use development is planned to be constructed at a city-owned lot at 361 St. Julien St., which has been home to a temporary homeless tenting/cabin site for more than a year.
At a City of Duncan council meeting on June 7, CAO Peter de Verteuil said the construction of BC Housing’s supportive housing development on Drinkwater Road is almost complete and the facility is scheduled to open this summer.
He said BC Housing’s other supportive housing development on White Road is also expected to be ready for use by this fall so, with the two projects almost complete and potentially ready soon to take in the homeless residents who have been temporarily living at the site on St. Julien Street, it’s time to move forward with the delayed development plans for the lot.
De Verteuil said the city had sent out a request for expressions of interest in the site in 2016, and the only response received was from Parhar Holdings Ltd. which is proposing to incorporate two adjacent parcels of land the company owns with the lot on St. Julien Street and construct a three-storey project with the bottom floor dedicated to commercial enterprises, and two storeys of residential above containing 20 units.
He said Parhar Holdings has agreed to dedicate 20 per cent of the residential units, or two per floor, to affordable housing.
De Verteuil said in the agreement, “affordable” is defined as seven per cent lower than market rent in the case of rental, and seven per cent lower than market value if the unit is to be sold.
“[The company’s] proposal met a significant amount of the city’s official community plan goals for this property, and the city worked with the Parhar Group over the course of the next years to clarify the conditions of sale, which ultimately included a portion of affordable housing to further meet the city’s OCP goals,” de Verteuil said.
“Since late 2019, the property-sale details have been delayed while the city worked with BC Housing, and later the Cowichan Housing Association, to temporarily shelter the homeless on the property. [As the BC Housing supportive-housing developments are almost complete], the Parhar Group wished to finalize the sale so they could begin planning their project and undertake the required permitting processes for a development permit and a building permit.”
De Verteuil said the property was appraised in 2019 for $300,000, and staff propose to hold to this value in 2021, even if it is now assessed at more, as the Parhar Group has been patient while the city worked with BC Housing to help the homeless population in the Cowichan Valley, and have agreed to the covenants and restrictions proposed on title.
Council agreed with staff’s recommendations.